Oakland set to be a leader in workplace cooperatives

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 By: Sara Stephens
(Originally published August 31, 2015)

"On Sept. 8, community members will pack Oakland City Hall to celebrate the City Council's groundbreaking resolution to support worker cooperatives as a powerful tool for economic development and democratic, empowering workplaces. The resolution will recognize the benefits that worker cooperatives bring to local economies, especially to Oakland, which is a national hub for such enterprises.

"Oakland will be one of the first cities in the country to integrate tailored support for worker cooperatives into its business assistance center.

"This resolution is a first step toward a broader worker cooperative development strategy. Following this event, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and partner organizations will work with Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington and others in the city to pass an ordinance that creates meaningful incentives and investment in worker cooperatives."

Read the full article on insidebayarea.com

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At Airbnb, growth brings scrutiny, regulation

By: Tim Logan, LA TimesLatimes-logo.gif
(Originally published June 10, 2015)

"Airbnb profits from transactions," said Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, city policies program director at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland. "There's no incentive for them to put limits on how many people can do this, how much they can charge or how many homes they list."

But, she notes, Airbnb is mindful of political pressure. And when pushed, it has agreed to changes.

Read the full article on latimes.com

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Sustainable Economies Law Center in Fast Company article about Gig Economy Workers

3042081-poster-p-1-what-does-a-union-look-like-in-the-gig-economy.jpgSarah Kessler published a piece in Fast Company entitled, "What does a Union look like in the Gig Economy?"

Janelle Orsi, from the Sustainable Economies Law Center, advocates for a worker-owned platform model: 

"The only way for independent workers to really benefit from the platforms that use their labor, argues Janelle Orsi, a lawyer who specializes in sharing economy issues, is for them to own the platforms themselves, in what she calls a 'freelancer-owned cooperative.' Since these platforms would by definition treat workers better, she thinks they could challenge companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Homejoy by essentially stealing their workforces. 'The companies themselves have very few assets," she says. "They don’t own cars, and they don’t own infrastructure, they don’t own hotels. They just own a software platform and a lot of clout. And if that clout goes away, then they just have software. And lots of people can create software.'"

Read the whole article here: http://www.fastcompany.com/3042081/what-does-a-union-look-like-in-the-gig-economy

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Seed Libraries Fight For the Right to Share

shareablelogo.gifBy:Christopher Cook

February 11, 2015

It’s easy to take seeds for granted. Tiny dry pods hidden in packets and sacks, they make a brief appearance as gardeners and farmers collect them for future planting then later drop them into soil. They are not “what’s for dinner,” yet without them there would be no dinner. Seeds are the forgotten heroes of food—and of life itself.

Sharing these wellsprings of sustenance may sound innocuous enough, yet this increasingly popular exchange—and wider seed access—is up against a host of legal and economic obstacles. The players in this surreal saga, wherein the mere sharing of seeds is under attack, range from agriculture officials interpreting seed laws, to powerful corporations expanding their proprietary and market control.

Read the full article on Shareable

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Sustainable Economies Law Center on CBS Bay Area Focus

Watch SELC build the legal roots of resilience before your eyes!On Sunday, January 25th, the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Janelle Orsi and Ricardo Nuñez were interviewed by CBS' Bay Area Focus! They spoke about the work SELC does and why legal resources are needed in every community to support the creation of cooperatives, renewable energy, shared housing and transportation, and more! Watch the video below!

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Duluth Library's Seed Sharing Program Hits A Hurdle

printLogo.gifBy: Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio

(Originally published November 30, 2014)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has given a thumbs down to a Duluth seed-sharing program that allows members to borrow vegetable seeds from the library in the spring and later return seeds they collect from their gardens.

State agriculture regulators say the exchange — one of about 300 in the United States — violates the state's seed law because it does not test seeds.

Read the full article on MPRNews.org

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Owning is the New Sharing

By Nathan Schneider, Shareable

shareablelogo.gif"There are many ways to own. Simply giving up on ownership, however, will mean that those who actually do own the tools that we rely on to share will control them. People who want an economy of genuine sharing are coming to recognize that they must embrace ownership — and, as they do, they're changing what owning means altogether."

Read the full article on Shareable

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Why Local Currencies Could Be On The Rise in the US - And Why It Matters

index.jpgBy Katie Gilbert

"As of this summer, you can be broke in Santa Barbara, California, and still afford organic produce from the farmers’ market. You can be dollar-broke, that is—but if you have enough Santa Barbara Missions tokens jangling in your pocket, earned in exchange for helping out at a number of local nonprofits, you’ll be set."

Read the full article on Forbes.com

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U.S. Seed Libraries Mobilize to Protect Their Right to Share

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By: Cat Johnson

September 8, 2014

In June, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg that their seed library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. According to officials, the library would have to follow the prohibitively expensive procedures of large-scale commercial seed companies or only offer commercial seed. The first option is impractical and the second option would gut the exchange of its primary purpose to serve home gardeners who want to save and exchange their own seed. 

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) reported in a recent article on Shareable.net that the Pennsylvania law may only apply to commercial seed operations. Despite what may be an incorrect interpretation of the law, other states are now considering adopting Pennsylvania's seed library protocol. This could kill a fast growing U.S. seed library movement.

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Oakland's Alternative Incubators

Oakland Local

Oakland Local's Eric Anderson wrote an article describing the turn toward business incubation centers building a new and just economy. Read the article below!

 

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